Biden admin. names Nevada toad endangered, hampering construction of geothermal plant

Biden admin. names Nevada toad endangered, hampering construction of geothermal plant

Posted For: blmLOL

By Julia Musto

Nevada’s Dixie Valley toad has been declared an endangered species.

Last spring, wildlife officials had temporarily listed the speckled, black-eyed toad on a rarely used emergency basis.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday that the ruling makes the final listing.

The amphibian is at risk of extinction mainly due to the approval and commencement of geothermal development, but other threats include groundwater pumping, agriculture, climate change, chytrid fungus, disease and predation from invasive bullfrogs.

In April, the temporary listing marked the second time in two decades that the agency had taken such action.

“Due to the imminent development of a geothermal project in Dixie Meadows, Nevada, and the potential resulting effects to the geothermal springs relied upon by the Dixie Valley toad, there is a significant risk to the well-being of the species,” the agency said then. “We find that emergency listing is necessary in order to provide the protective measures afforded by the Act to the Dixie Valley toad.”

Environmentalists who filed a lawsuit in January to block construction of the geothermal plant east of Reno – the only place the toad is known to exist on Earth – applauded the Biden administration.

“We’re pleased that the Biden administration is taking this essential step to prevent the extinction of an irreplaceable piece of Nevada’s special biodiversity,” Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin regional director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Associated Press.

A Dixie Valley toad is seen around the hot spring-fed wetland in the Dixie Valley in Fallon, Nevada, May 4, 2022. 

A Dixie Valley toad is seen around the hot spring-fed wetland in the Dixie Valley in Fallon, Nevada, May 4, 2022.  (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via AP)

The Fish and Wildlife Service cited some of their concerns – including that pumping hot water from beneath the surface to generate carbon-free power would adversely impact levels and temperatures of surface water critical to the toad’s survival and sacred to the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.

In Dec. 1 tweets reacting to the news, Donnelly noted the protections had been finalized “extraordinarily fast,” which he said was indicative of how imminently the toad faces extinction if Ormat Technology “is able to move forward with their dastardly plans.”

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